Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Latest Update From City Of Spokane

City of Spokane snow removal crews are moving along with work in the residential areas today and will continue that work overnight. In addition, they are scraping off slush on some arterials as they work to keep the main streets in good condition.

Sign Up If You Need Weather-Related Help

KXLY TV wants to connect people who need help with snow-related problems to people who can do something about them. KXLY has created a database of people requesting assitance with plowing, shoveling snow off roofs, or other emergency assistance. Volunteers can then contact those people to offer help. Here's a link to register on for that database.

In Spokane County, for non-emergency requests such as medical concerns, medication, food, water and heat you are asked to call 2-1-1.

SRTC Holiday Hours

SRTC will be closed starting at noon today through Thursday. We'll be back Friday morning though and ready to actually do some work (that will be a novel feeling after the past few weeks of spending 8 hours a day gorging ourselves on baked goods).

We'll see you in the new year and remember, if you're going out tonight, take it easy on the roads. Even if you aren't drunk, chances are someone in a car nearby may be.

WSDOT Moving Plows From Western To Eastern Washington

Did you know that the Washington State Department of Transportation uses rubber plow bits in most parts of Western Washington to protect raised pavement markers, but recessed pavement markers in most parts of Eastern Washington? That's right, and they're changing out those plow bits because WSDOT is shifting some of its plows and crews from western Washington to the eastern part of the state for the next five days. Here's the latest from the WSDOT blog.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Latest Snow Info From The City of Spokane

City of Spokane snow removal crews are finishing up the snow emergency routes, major and secondary arterials, and bus routes this morning. All streets are open again today. Crews also have started a new full-City plow of the residential streets today.

As the bad weather continues, some citizens may find they need non-emergency assistance. For those with non-emergency special needs such as wellness checks, or those who need help getting medications, foods and other special needs, please call 2-1-1. For emergencies, of course, please call 9-1-1.

Don't Be A Snow Ostrich

The Washington State Department of Transportation asks you not to be a 'snow ostrich.' So what is one? WSDOT tells you on their blog. Plus, they've got a refresher on who's responsible for plowing what. It's helpful so you know who to call up and yell at.

County Not Screwing Around Anymore

Spokane County is calling in the big guns. The Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Refueling Wing (ARW) has been called upon to augment state and local jurisdictions with snow removal. The 141st ARW is providing ten citizen airmen to operate two industrial snow-blowers, one truck with a plow and one front-loader. Their mission will be seven-days in duration unless they are called off sooner. Go Guard!

In the meantime, Spokane County road crews are continuing to clear primary arterials and emergency routes.

Don't Count On Cab Service

If you have plans for New Year's Eve that involve taking a cab home, be aware that the weather is taking a toll on the local taxi business, in addition to everything else.

Spokane County's Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program received notification from local cab companies that, due to weather conditions, they are running significantly behind schedule. That means if you're part of the CTR program and need to use the Guaranteed Ride Home program, you may get home either really late, or have to find another way to get there.

I found out about this the hard way last weekend. Trying to be proactive, some friends and I got a ride to a local establishment to celebrate a friend's birthday, planning to take a cab home. When we called for one at 11:30, we were told we couldn't get a ride until at least 2 a.m.! So guess who spent several hours in the bar parking lot on a Friday night waiting for a ride? Never did show up either. We finally got a friend out of bed in the early morning hours to come get us.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Latest From The City; Changing Strategy & Mayor To Speak

To keep people moving in today's heavy snowfall, the City of Spokane is changing its plowing strategy to concentrate on specific north-south and east-west corridors. Plow crews will rotate through these corridors continuously.

Mayor Mary Verner will update the media on current plowing efforts and related work at the City Street Department's Normandie complex near Sinto and Washington at 2:30 p.m. today.

Here are the east-west routes:

* Francis Avenue. This corridor will start at the west City limits on Nine Mile Road to Havana on the east.
* Wellesley Avenue. This corridor will run between Assembly and Freya.
* Second and Third avenues. This corridor will include the Sunset Highway to the east, and then run along Second and Third until Havana.
* 29th Avenue. This corridor runs between Cedar and Havana.
* 37th Avenue. This corridor runs between Bernard and the east City limits.

Here are the north-south routes:

* Maple/Ash corridor. This corridor runs from Country Homes Boulevard on the north to Hatch Road on the south.
* Division Street and Stevens. This corridor starts along the Newport Highway on the north, through the "Y", through town and up the South Hill along Grand, Stevens, and Bernard streets to 29th.
* Market Street and Thor/Ray. This corridor runs along Market/Greene across the interstate and up Thor/Ray on the South Hill to 37th Avenue.

Snow Update From The City Of Spokane

This just in from the City of Spokane: snow removal crews are once again working to clear emergency routes and major arterials as the snow continues to pile up. Plows have moved to main streets but graders remain in the residential streets, with the second round of residential plowing expected to be completed today.

Temperatures currently are below freezing, but are expected to increase during the day. Some street flooding is possible. Citizens are asked to clear storm drains, if possible, to help minimize street flooding.

Spokane Fire Department officials also are asking people to clear away snow from hydrants to allow for access during emergencies.

Watch For Black Ice, Especially In West Plains Area

*&^%$#... more snow! And not just new snow, but it's sitting on top of a layer of ice that froze after yesterday's melt-off. Area law enforcement says the worst area is I90 in the West Plains area. Several slideoffs have already happened there this morning.

Just like all the other area agencies that deal with transportation, the Washington State Department of Transportation says, "We're doing the best we can, but no we can't clear the snow out from in front of everyone's driveway." Here's a link to their latest blog entry.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

P.M. Rush Hour More Dangerous Than A.M.

According to 'Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us', by Tom Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95), the morning rush hour is twice as safe as the evening rush hour, in terms of traffic accidents. That's because, when you're driving home in the evening, drivers are out shopping, picking up kids, etc. and not concentrating on driving as much as they should be. They are also more likely to have had a drink or two on the way home from the office.

So remember that on your drive home tomorrow and be especially observant.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

County Declares State Of Emergency

This morning, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) met in emergency session and unanimously declared a State of Emergency in Spokane County. This action was taken because County Engineer Bob Brueggeman reported severe blowing and drifting snow in the southeast portion of the County, crews struggling to keep right-of-ways clear, and numerous power outages, primarily in north Spokane County.

By declaring a State of Emergency, the BOCC now has the authority to hire private contractors to assist in snow removal without going through a time-consuming bid process. An officials State of Emergency also enables the County to obtain supplementary resources from other local governments/jurisdictions, implements the Spokane City/County Emergency Management Plan, as necessary, and directs the Emergency Management Department to coordinate all incident-related assistance to the affected areas.

Since December 17th, Spokane County has been spending $70,000 daily on snow removal efforts.

Saturday Snow Update From the City

City of Spokane plow crews are once again plowing emergency routes and major arterials; they gradually will move to secondary arterials and bus routes tonight (Saturday).

In the residential areas, they've completed plowing on the South Hill for a second time. Depending on snow fall, the second round of residential plowing should be complete by Sunday or Monday.

Crews re-plowed downtown, “racking” the snow to the center of the streets again. Don'tattempt to cross these berms; you will get stuck!
Here's City's snowplow webpage for info on when plows will be in your area.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowzilla: Public Enemy #1 For Tying Up Traffic

SRTC in no way endorses this, but here's an idea from Ryan in our office of what you can do with all that extra snow in your yard: build a 'Snowzilla' snowman. Better ask the authorities first though, Anchorage officials have given the builders of Snowzilla a cease and desist order, saying so many people are coming to see the snowman that traffic has increased to the point of endangerment in the neighborhood and that the snowman itself was unsafe. Oh well, it's not like he's permanent.

This Just In: SRTC Closure

Well we finally did it. We convinced the boss to let us leave the office for a couple days (although my ankle bracelet gives me a shock if I'm off the premises for more than 72 hours at a time).

SRTC will closed this afternoon (Wednesay), Thursday, and Friday. We'll be back and (hopefully re-energized) on Monday. I know I'll be feeling better after four days of dressing the cat up for the holidays.

Freeway Slow, Man Threatens Plow Drivers, People Needed To Help Elderly & Disabled

Just got downtown and the freeway was pretty slow. Two accidents between Barker and Freya had things crawling. Speaking of accidents, I've heard from several people that some drivers are trying to create their own lanes when there is only one lane plowed in each direction. This is especially true going down hills; there is a line of cars waiting their turn, but some clown tries to pass in the lane that no longer exists because it's covered in snow. This causes accidents, bottlenecking, anger, etc.

We're all frustrated about the snow situation, but let's keep it in perspective. A man was arrested yesterday for threatening to kill any snow plow driver who came down his street. Here's the story.

Maybe he needs some community service. Catholic Charities is looking for people to shovel out the elderly and disabled. Some of Catholic Charities' clients have been house-bound for a week now. If you have a snowblower, a plow, or a strong back, and some time to spare, call Catholic Charities at (509) 328-8400.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Looking for last minute gift ideas?

It looks like Santa came early for Tempe Arizona drivers this week. Four people dressed in Santa outfits hit the streets on Monday and "packaged up" three traffic cameras that issue tickets for speeding and running red lights. They didn't make the highway patrol too happy, but judging by the horns honking in this video, I suspect there were more than a few grateful gift recipients...

SR 27 Closed

For those of you trying to reach Pullman or Colfax, turn back! State Route 27 is closed for snow removal until further notice. Compact snow and ice and snow drifts caused the closure from the Pullman City Limit to Fairfield City Limit starting at 8:00 this morning.

Holiday Closures

Here's a roundup of closures for this week at area government agencies:

- SRTC will be open on Christmas Eve (tomorrow), but chances are we will sneak out a little early, so if you need something, try to catch us before 1 p.m. After that, Jeff and I will be enjoying a little 'holiday cheer' if you know what I mean, to take our mind off all this snow.

- All Spokane County offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday, but Spokane County Courts will be open on Friday.

- Spokane City Hall will be closed starting at noon on Wednesdays, Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, and all day on Thursdays, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

- Downtown Spokane parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Thursdays, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

- Spokane Valley City offices will be closed on Thursday, December 25 and Friday, December 26.

My Personal Transportation Complaints Caused By Snow

This little piece of art is the work of my friend Suzee who is, needless to say, a little frustrated by the snow. Yesterday was the first time she'd seen a plow in her northeast Spokane neighborhood since the snow started last week. It took her about three days I believe to get her car dug out, but after the plow came through, she couldn't get it back in her driveway!

As for my frustration, I had to wait an hour and 20 minutes for my bus last night. By the time it showed up, delayed by an accident and getting stuck in the park and ride lot, I couldn't feel my left hand. And the elderly lady waiting at the bus stop with me had this to say: 'You could pierce my face right now and I wouldn't feel it.'

This morning's ride in was much better, although it did take about 45 minutes longer than normal. And here's my rant for the day: just because there's snow on the ground and you can't see the lines of the parking spots doesn't mean you have to park 8 feet from the next car in parking lots. The Liberty Lake park and ride was a mess this morning, with only a fraction of the usual number of cars able to use it, because everyone was parked so far apart!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles: All Not Running

Holiday travel became more difficult today with cancelled flights, buses and delayed train travel.

So far, eight flights have been cancelled out of the Spokane International Airport since this morning.

All Greyhound buses into and out of Spokane have been cancelled. Snoqualmie and Stevens passes are still open at this point, but traction devices are recommended, officials said.

Amtrak is still running routes into Spokane, but with significant delays.

The Latest From The City- Monday, 9:45 a.m.

Snow removal efforts in the City have changed due to the new snow overnight. Plows are back on the City’s snow emergency routes and major arterials.

In the residential areas, crews have finished plowing on the South Hill. Work also is proceeding downtown. Crews “racked” the snow to the center of the street, creating large berms and are using industrial snow blowers and dump trucks to remove the berms. All that snow is then dumped at the City's Operations Complex.

Browne’s Addition will be plowed on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 23 and 24. North-south streets in Browne’s Addition will be plowed on Tuesday, and east-west streets on Wednesday. Plowing will begin at 9 a.m. each day. Because the streets are so narrow, cars must be moved from the streets or they will be towed.

Plow Info

Wondering when your street is going to be plowed? Here's a link to the County's plowing priority map. and here's Spokane City's version. Also, give the plow drivers some slack, they're working round the clock and doing the best they can.

While you're waiting to be freed from the oppression of snow on your neighborhood street, here's some words of wisdom from the County's website that we should all heed:

DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN TO DIG TUNNELS OR BUILD FORTS IN SNOW BERMS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD OR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET! Plow operators cannot see children hidden in the snow! Children should be restricted to playing in yards, parks and playgrounds.

SRTC Is Back In Business!

It took me 1 1/2 hours to get to work today, but I'm here! And glad to be here too. Was starting to get cabin fever and a little looney. I think my pets are glad I'm working today too, I was considering dressing the cat up in doll clothes just for something to do. Bob wasn't very happy about that.

Anyway, a couple things I observed on my death march into work this morning:

- The good news: people were taking it very easy on the freeway. I think we only got up to 40 mph, and I only saw two slide-offs. The bad news: Drivers weren't moving over to let people merge as they were trying to get onto the freeway at the on-ramps. This caused some scary moments.

- If you are stopping to help pull someone out of a snowdrift or their driveway, PLEASE get as far off the road as you can before getting out to hook up their car with your tow chain. One clown stopped in the middle of Harvard Road in Liberty Lake this morning to help someone. That's great, but he also left his door wide open, leaving no room for people to get around. They were going into the median, which bogged things down even worse.

- Thanks to all the people who took it upon themselves to plow public roads! A very nice man in a big pickup was plowing Harvard this morning when I came through.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We Were Snowed In Too

Just like the rest of you, all of SRTC staff were snowed in and not able to get to work on Thursday and Friday (well one person managed to get here, but I'm not sure how long he stayed). Everyone is accounted for is the good news. I was just out on the roads of the valley and downtown and it wasn't too terrible, but parking lots are terrible. So take it slow and go easy, supposedly more snow is on the way.

We'll start regular updates of the blog again on Monday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Word From The City of Spokane & WSDOT

The City of Spokane has just declared a "Condition Red" snow emergency, which means City crews will be plowing snow 24 hours a day, seven days a week until they can complete a full City plow, which includes removing snow from 967 miles of streets.

Today, crews are focusing on snow emergency routes and major arterials. Then, they will move to the secondary arterials, bus routes, and residential hills. If no more snow falls, crews will then begin plowing residential streets.

The Washington State Department of Transportation have all their trucks on the road as well but are urging drivers to be prepared by carrying chains, slowing down and giving yourself extra time to reach your destination. Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady spots. These all have potential to develop black ice that makes driving hazardous.

Check The SRTMC Website For Accidents & Delays

Don't forget, on days like today, when the weather is making the commute rough, to check the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center (SRTMC) website before heading out on the roads. The site shows accidents, delays, backups and any other incident that could cause you problems. You can also watch live cameras to determine the conditions of local roadways. Here's a link to the SRTMC site. And here's a video about the SRTMC that City Cable 5 put together for us:

Weather Causing Accidents & Delays

This morning’s snow has triggered rush hour accidents across the region, including several on Interstate 90. Here's some of those accidents:

- A two-car wreck at the eastbound Freya Street exit on I-90 was slowing traffic in eastbound lanes toward downtown Spokane. Some traffic was taking the Freya exit and clogging Second Avenue.

- Another incident was reported at I-90 and Exit 277-A where the right lane was blocked.

- A refuse truck and automobile had collided on westbound I-90 at U.S. Highway 195.

- Traffic cameras showed vehicles on the freeway moving, but at some places such as Freya and Havana streets, it had slowed to about 25 mph.

- Idaho State Police reported slide-offs and an accident partially blocking Interstate 90’s westbound lanes at Post Falls.

Alternative Jet Fuel To Be Put To The Test

The Japanese are trying an alternative fuel in a commercial airliner they will test next month. Camelina is a biofuels crop that has received strong backing from Montana officials. It will be put to the test in January by a company out of Seattle and Boeing. Here's the story.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Traffic Obstruction Due To Movie Shoot

Tomorrow (Wednesday), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. drivers near First Ave. and Washington St. in downtown Spokane will encounter obstructions as film crews shoot a scene for a movie.

The scene will have a trailer followed by a police escort driving in a loop. The loop will begin at 1029 W. First Ave.; the film crew will drive on First Ave. to Washington St., from Washington St. to Sprague Ave., and from Sprague Ave. to Adams St., ending up back at First Ave.

2009 Board Meeting Dates Set

For all you SRTC groupies, the dates for 2009 Board meetings have been set and we've posted them on our website. Click here, then scroll to the bottom of the page to see 2009 meeting dates.

I'll get Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) dates to you ASAP.

WSU Grad Wants Highway 26 Renamed For School

A WSU graduate wants to rename Highway 26 from Colfax to Vantage. What's he have in mind? Tyler Morgan proposes renaming SR 26 the WSU “Cougar” Highway. No, this is not a joke, and Morgan actually has some support for his cause. Here's the story.

So what do you think? Considering their record on the football field this year, I think maybe we should wait a while and see if they 'deserve' it next year :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Big Meeting Friday To Discuss Stimulus Package Projects

The SRTC Board has continued their meeting from last Thursday, December 11 to this Friday, December 19 in order to invite area elected officials to discuss and comment on transportation projects that have been submitted for consideration as part of a potential transportation infrastructure stimulus package.

Congress is seriously considering an infrastructure investment bill to stimulate jobs and the economy. SRTC must deliver the Spokane Region list of proposed projects to Washington State Department Of Transportation no later than December 29.

Friday’s meeting starts at 9 a.m. in meeting rooms A, B, and C of Bay 1 at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, 404 N. Havana St., Spokane Valley. It will provide a great opportunity to discuss transportation projects and priorities as a region.

The public is welcome at all SRTC Board meetings so if you're interested, come join us!

This Is A New One By Me

Bob Has Spoken

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
No road worker layoffs

I am writing to correct the misinformation contained in Dr. Kim Thorburn's letter of Dec. 10, "County on wrong road."

The Engineering and Roads Department of Spokane County is not laying off 15 road workers. We had 15 vacancies throughout the entire department, six of those being road workers. These vacancies were the result of retirements and regular attrition. While these positions show up as being eliminated in 2009, in reality they were eliminated as the vacancies occurred this year.

In addition, Spokane County successfully concluded labor negotiations with the road crews earlier this year, and to speculate that eliminating already vacant positions is "retaliation" is patently absurd.

To be quite clear, the Engineering and Roads Department is not laying off employees, and county residents will not see a decline in service in 2009.

Bob Brueggeman
Spokane County engineer

Drop In Santa Barbara Accidents Attributed To Hands-Free Law

I couldn't find the article when digging around on the internet this morning, but I heard a news story this morning that said traffic accidents have dropped by almost 40% in Santa Barbara County, CA since the hands-free cell phone law went into effect earlier this year. And fatal accidents dropped by 72%!!! Wow, those are some results. I'll keep digging and post it if I can find it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Driving At Its' Best

This video is making the email rounds right now. I'm not sure where it's from, but I have a feeling we have some of this fun to look forward to this weekend. And if it does, don't be like the woman here who jumps out of her car. She could have been hit by another car.

Writer Against Appleway Change

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Valley shift irreversible

The Spokane Valley City Council is bound and determined to make Sprague and University the hub of the Valley, because they want to build a grand city hall there so all can come and worship at their feet.

A "world-class" consultant has told them to change the efficient one-way couplet back to two way traffic and "they will come" back to the Dishman area to spend money. (I think they've watched "Field of Dreams" too often.)

They want to save the tax base collected from Dishman merchants, but eliminate commercial development east of Sullivan (also tax base) to force the city back to the west. Dishman was the hub of the Valley up until about 50 years ago. Then the Valley center slowly moved east. Now it's the Sullivan corridor.

Two-way or 10-way traffic is not going to move the Valley center back to Dishman.

By the time this City Council is done, the Valley will be in worse financial shape than the rest of the country. So have a happy New Year and don't forget to pay the 6 percent phone tax the council levied on us.

Sally Jackson
Spokane Valley

Do you agree/disagree or other with Ms. Jackson?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

City Gearing Up For Expected Snow

The City of Spokane is gearing up for the snow that we're expecting this weekend. According to a press release they just sent out, the City plows the streets according the following priority list:

1. Snow emergency routes: arterials that carry more than 15,000 vehicles each day.
2. Major arterials: arterials that carry less than 15,000 vehicles each day.
3. Secondary arterials and bus routes.
4. Residential hills.
5. Residential streets: Residential streets will be plowed if snow accumulations reach more than 4 inches, snow continues to fall, and additional snowfall is predicted in the forecast.

Citizens are asked to remove their vehicles from the streets when plows are expected. Updated plowing schedule information is available by calling the City’s snow removal hotline at 456-2666.

Writer Says County On Wrong Road

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
County on wrong road

Fifteen of the 58 employees to be laid off by the Spokane County commissioners' budget are road workers ("County plans to cut 58 positions," Dec. 4).

As a resident of unincorporated Spokane County, roads are the most important service that I expect from county government. I don't think that I'm alone in this expectation. The roads of my county commissioner district, No. 1, are a travesty. I won't hold my breath for snow removal in the event of a repeat of last winter.

Road workers are the only county union without a contract. They are holding out for a fair salary adjustment from the county commissioners. Is this retaliation? Who do the commissioners think that they are retaliating against? I'd rather have graded and plowed roads than a racetrack.

Kim Marie Thorburn

County Discontinues Valley's Road Maintenance Contract

According to a news release from the County, the City of Spokane Valley is going to have to find another way to maintain their roads starting next year.

Yesterday the Board of County Commissioners voted to discontinue the County’s road maintenance agreement with the City of Spokane Valley, effective October 15, 2009.

The $1.8 million contract was apparently no longer cost-effective for the County Engineering and Roads department which has been providing services such as signing, traffic signals, highway striping and winter maintenance for the Valley since 2005.

No word yet how the City of the Valley will provide these services in the future.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Black Friday For Parking Meters

Who would have thought so many people would want to get their hands on a parking meter, considering that all I ever hear about them are complaints?

The City of Spokane is selling surplus parking meters for $35 each, just to get rid of them. And they've had an incredible response. One Street Department employee told me yesterday that the lobby was packed with people trying to get a meter. There are so many people that want one that they're now asking you to please call first to put in an 'order.' The number is 232-8800 if you want one to give to that special someone for Christmas.

In Support of The NSC

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Freeway need is visible

It was nostalgic to read the quarter-page Opinion piece by John J. Covert (Dec. 6) listing all the reasons why we shouldn't build the north-south freeway.

These are the same 40-year-old tired arguments that have us buying right-of-way by the square foot today, that could have been purchased by the acre 40 years ago. The "Citizens for Sensible Transportation Planning" need a reality check – like maybe stand atop Pines I-90 Interchange bridge and look down. Because we are still free here in America, you will see what we do – build freeways to move people and freight.

The first order of business at 16 is to get the driver's license. Sprague Avenue to Division to Liberty Lake is lined with car and truck dealers. The expectation here in America is growth (economic panic without it) and like it or not, our region is no different. The construction of this freeway has been on the back of the shelf long enough. Finally we have legislative leadership that understands this priority – it must and will be built, even if it's done one foot at a time.

Thomas C. Stewart
Liberty Lake

I agree with Mr. Stewart about the need for the NSC, but don't believe that freedom is about moving people and freight. And yes, we do put a lot of emphasis on driving and owning nice vehicles, but I think that is starting to change. Anyone?

STA Discusses Raising Fares

STA says it will consider increasing fares next year during budget deliberations. Here's why.

From everything I've seen, STA fares are still pretty low compared to a lot of comparably-sized cities. Anyone disagree or see an alternative to increasing fares?

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Not Light Rail, But Spokane Is Getting A New Form Of Transportation

According to the Inlander, Spokane will soon be getting a new form of transportation; pedicab.
Here's the scoop.

I'm going to try to get Mr. Eggum to park outside the SRTC offices and be on call for me. I do a lot of cross-downtown walking and often curse my penchant for wearing heels. Will you use this service when it becomes available?

In Support Of A Gas Tax Hike

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Gas tax hike offers benefits

I was surprised by Christina L. Moxcey's Nov. 29 letter suggesting that a rise in the gas tax with a resulting decrease in gasoline consumption is "the last thing we need."

On the contrary, we would have the benefits of less dependence on foreign oil, less traffic congestion, increased viability of public transit, cleaner air (less pollution from exhaust), increased demand for local food (as opposed to shipping food long distances), and far more than enough revenue to offset any additional costs for lower-income families.

Meanwhile, everyone would still be free to "make choices for themselves" about what to drive.

Roy Johnson

Anyone care to offer your opinion on this one?

Roundup For the Week of Dec. 8

There's a way to check road conditions before leaving home, the NSC is progressing, and if you're nervous about winter driving there's a class for you. Here's what's happening this week in the local transportation world from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' Column.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Some Updates From The City

· A reminder that shoppers and drivers near NorthTown Mall and River Park Square may experience delays due to traffic back-ups. Flaggers will be directing traffic today and this weekend.

· The Maple St. Bridge has one lane closed for northbound drivers near the north end of the bridge today, until 2 p.m. Crews are repairing street lighting conduit.

· Howard St. from Spokane Falls Blvd. to Main Ave. will be closed to traffic on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a film shoot. Businesses will be open.

· Riverside Ave. near its intersection with Wall St. will be reduced to one eastbound lane starting Monday, Dec. 8, through Friday, Dec. 12, from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. Additionally, Wall St. will be closed from Riverside to Sprague avenues. Avista crews will be repairing a utility lid.

Leaf Pick Up Coming To An End

City of Spokane crews are expected to complete leaf pickup activities this Sunday, assuming snowfall won’t interfere with that work.

The City’s leaf pickup service is intended to remove only the leaves that naturally fall into the streets. Residents should not rake leaves into the street. Please move your vehicle from the street before leaf crews are in your neighborhood. The leaf pickup schedule may be subject to change, please refer to the City’s leaf pickup hotline at 456-2666 for the most up-to-date information.

Groups Call For Green Investment To Repair Economy

A report compiled by 29 of the country's biggest 'green' groups calls for green investment to achieve economic growth, such as investment in infrastructure like public transportation.

The list of actions and policies the groups would like President-elect Barack Obama to adopt stresses the need for an approach that unites environment, energy, and economic policies. Here's the story and a link to the document.

Check Out Plan For Hillyar'd Future At Annual Holiday Festival

If you don't have plans for the weekend, the 2008 Hillyard Holiday Festival will give you a chance to check out the community before it undergoes a big makeover in 2009, and see what it will look like in the future.

Included in the festivities at the Hillyard North Pole (5101 N Market St, Old U.S. Bank Building) are $5 printed-while-you-wait pictures with Santa Claus, many craft and gift vendors, a holiday decoration contest for local buisnesses, holiday treats and a chance to get to know your neighbors.

Doors open at 11am and go until 6pm. Proceeds from the event benefit the local neighborhood non-profit organizations.

At 1pm on Saturday Dec. 6th, on the lower level of the Hillyard North Pole, WSU's Interdisciplinary Design Studio will be showcasing their work from this term, designs for the future of Hillyard.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Slow Going On SH97, The Eagles Are Back

The eagles are back on Lake Coeur d'Alene, which means that if you drive over to see them, you need to be extra careful on State Highway 97, the road that goes around the lake. When I've been over there in past years it's a mob scene of people stopped in the middle of the road, parked with cars halfway in the roadway, and people running back and forth across the highway, darting between cars. SH97 is already a scary stretch of road, so slow down and pay attention, and don't be one of those people who do any of the above.

Thanks to the Spokesman's Huckleberries blog for the eagle picture, by the way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Public Transportation In New York

I stumbled on this YouTube video of New York called 'Public Transportation; It's not so bad.' I had a hard time paying attention to the actual form of transportation involved though, because of the incredible grafitti scenes on the buildings. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Airlines Say The Will Cut More Flights & Jobs

Executives of major U.S. airlines announced today they will be cutting more flights and jobs. Here's the Spokesman-Review story.

WSDOT Blog Answers Your Mt. Pass Questions

If you traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday, you may have used the WSDOT Mountain Passes webpage to find out about conditions on local passes. And if you did, you may have noticed that the site has two (often) different temperature readings for each pass. So what's the difference in temperature? That's the question of the day on the WSDOT blog! Here's your answer.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Next Component of NSC To Start Construction This Week

Work on the next major component of the North Spokane Freeway is slated to start this week. The project— US 395-NSC/US 2 Lowering- will complete the North Spokane Corridor/US 2 interchange. The $42 million job is expected to be complete in 2011.

This project will lower the existing US 2 between Farwell Rd and Peone Creek to provide the clearance needed for the highway to pass under the North Spokane Corridor freeway. A pathway will be constructed which allows pedestrian and bicycle traffic to cross over traffic from south of Farwell Road to the area north and west of US 2 and US 39.

Drivers will see minimal traffic interruptions over the next few months with most of the work focused on the new bridges. This project is the seventh of eight jobs for the US 395/North Spokane Corridor freeway project that were funded by the Nickel Gas Tax, enacted in 2003.

Federal Money, Makeovers, and Lane Markers

Federal money is headed to the region for road and highway projects, Hillyard is getting a makeover, and I90 gets some new and improved lane markers. Here's what's happening in area transportation from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some Things Jeff And I Are Thankful For This Thanksgiving

- Nice enough weather to continue to walk and bike well into this fall.
- That local lawmakers earlier this week didn't suggest stopping construction on the North Spokane Corridor all together until the economy improves. Instead they suggested scaling back the scope of the project.
- That we both still have jobs at SRTC (Glenn must not read this blog or we probably wouldn't).
- Female motorcycle cops (this was Jeff's submission).
- That voters had the foresight several years ago to approve the City's Street Bond.
- That ridership on STA has continued to rise, even after gas prices dropped drastically.
- That my office is in the very back corner, where I can pretty much do whatever all day and no one notices I'm wearing my pajamas.

Have a great Thanksgiving. We'll be back Monday, Dec. 1!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm guessing this lady will never fail to stop at a railroad crossing again.

Hillyard Gets Grants For Improvements

The Washington state Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) has awarded the City of Spokane two grants totaling $5.2 million for improvements in Hillyard.

The TIB grants include:
• $2.7 million to enhance economic development. This project will include new ADA-compliant sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, and street trees with a new irrigation system along Market Street from Heroy to Columbia. Construction is slated for 2009.
• $2.5 million to construct a left-turn lane and add sidewalks and bicycle lanes on Francis Avenue from Freya to Havana. The project is slated for construction in 2011.

Good work Hillyard!

Holiday Closures

Some advance notice of what's open and what's closed for the Thanksgiving holiday this week:

- Most Department of Transportation construction work will be suspended from Thursday, November 27th , through Sunday, November 30th, in anticipation of increased holiday traffic.
- Spokane City Hall will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 27 and 28.
- City of Spokane libraries, solid waste transfer stations, and the Waste to Energy Facility will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 27, but open regular hours the rest of the weekend.
- Thursday is a parking meter holiday, but normal meter use rules apply the rest of the weekend.
- All Spokane County offices, including the Public Safety Building, will be closed Friday and Saturday.

Price To Fly Coming Down

Airfares are falling rather than rising as the holiday travel season approaches. Due to the bad economy, many travelers are paying about $100 less per trip than people who locked in tickets months ago.

The holiday bargains come after financially strapped airlines shrank U.S. operations by about 10 percent this fall. Analysts predicted the capacity cuts would keep planes full but carriers are still struggling to fill seats, as many people are saving their money, unsure what to expect of the economy.

Plan Cuts NSC Price... And Amenities

State lawmakers Lisa Brown, Chris Marr, and Timm Ormsby held a news conference earlier this morning to propose a much smaller version of the stretch of the North Spokane Corridor between Francis Avenue and the Spokane River.

Due to funding issues, they're proposing the following changes:

•An interchange northwest of the Esmeralda Golf Course would be added later.
•The road would have four lanes instead of eight.
•Plans to put parts of the freeway below ground level would be shelved.

I was personally glad to hear that the bike/ped path will remain. And the WSDOT will still own the right of way required to build the original-planned freeway, so when the money becomes available they can expand.

Here's more information.

I heard some local DJs talking about this on the radio this morning. Their take is that the new plan sounds just like Division, minus the traffic lights. What's your thoughts on this proposal?

Monday, November 24, 2008

AAA Predicts Holiday Travel Won't Drop Much

Despite layoffs, foreclosures and stock losses, AAA is predicting that holiday travel won't drop much, and that 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here's are the numbers.

Do you plan to travel this week?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Flaggers to Direct Traffic Near Malls Starting Next Friday

It's that time again, the time when shopping starts to take over our entire lives, to the point that it can obstruct traffic.

Here's early warning that, starting next week, drivers near NorthTown Mall may experience delays due to traffic back-ups caused by people trying to get into and out of the mall. Flaggers will be on hand, starting next Friday, Nov. 28.

Same story near the entrance and exit to the River Park Square parking garage downtown. Flaggers will also be directing traffic at both those locations starting Friday.

It's that time of the year careful out there

That's right. The roads iced up last night and several drivers failed to pay attention to that on their way to work this morning. The Spokaesman review did a round up of accidents in Spokane and Idaho this morning. Man, you knwo that guy that ran the redlight and hit a sheriff's deputy is going to have a bad day... Check out the story below:

Below freezing conditions overnight are causing slick roads in north and west Spokane County.

Collisions have been reported on Highway 2 near Elk-Chattaroy Road.

On Highway 27 at 24th Avenue, a two-car collision has been pulled off the roadway, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Mark Baker. Two people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

In Idaho

Three wrecks have been reported on Highway 95, police said.

A pickup rollover at Cougar-Gulch Road south of Coeur d'Alene is being investigated.

A jackknifed Fed-Ex truck between Grangeville and Lewiston is blocking the highway, officials said. Expect a two-hour road closure.

At Highway 95 and Kathleen, a Kootenai County Sheriff's deputy was hit by a red-light runner. The deputy is a little shaken but otherwise OK, said Kootenai County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger. The driver who hit the deputy is uninjured. Idaho State Police is investigating.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Avoid Bad Roads This Winter By Finding A Different Way To Work

The weather has been amazingly mild for this time of year, but don't get used to it, we all know bad weather and nasty road conditions are on the way. So be proactive for once and think ahead about how you're going to get to work in one piece when the roads are bad. I highly recommend riding the bus, but the folks at the Spokane County Commute Trip (CTR) Reduction program have some other options you can check out too, and they even reward you for using them! Here's a link to the CTR site.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some Stats From The WSDOT

The Washington State Department of Transportation wants you to know their crews are ready to handle snow and ice control duties. For the duration of the winter, 200 crew members will work two shifts, seven days a week, to keep the 1,600 miles of state highways in the seven northeastern counties safe.

93 snowplows are stationed throughout the region, and 14 liquid anti-ice chemical trucks. Maintenance teams are on duty from around 4:00 a.m. to midnight or later. Liquid and solid chemicals, plus sand, are important tools in snow and ice control.

Some advice from the WSDOT:

- Check for accidents and dangerous roads by logging onto the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center website.
- Watch out for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the road fine.
- Don’t use cruise control.
- Don’t follow too closely.
- Slow down!

Rockslide Reveals Giant Fossil

A rockslide in western Washington has revealed a huge fossil... and a tropical past for our region. Here's the story from the WSDOT blog.

City Impact Fees Approved But Delayed

Spokane leaders have finally created taxes on new development in hopes of solving a growing shortfall in street funding.

But because of restrictions in the "impact fee" ordinance, which was approved by City Council Monday, it's unclear when the city will start collecting the money.Here's the story.

Two People Hit By Car In Valley

Two people were hit by a car early this morning in Spokane Valley at Evergreen Road and Mallon Avenue. As of 8:00 this morning, the northbound, right hand lane of Evergreen is blocked, and Mallon is blocked east of the intersection. The couple were taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center with serious injuries.

Remember folks, if you're walking or driving, you need to be a lot more vigilant now that it gets light later. It's hard for drivers to see you if you don't wear light colors when walking. And this morning's fog not only cut down sight distance, but also made some roadways slick, which means it's hard to stop in a hurry.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Move Your Cars If You Live In Browne's Addition

It happens every year, the City of Spokane asks Browne's Addition residents to move their cars in order to pick up leaves, and some people don't get the message, or get their cars moved. Well, it's time again. Tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m., the trucks will be on the north-south streets in Browne’s Addition. Wednesday it's the east-west streets.

Cars must be moved because the streets are so narrow in Browne’s Addition the trucks cannot get through with parked vehicles lining the streets. Vehicles parked on the street when the trucks come in will be subject to towing.

Rockslide Drops Rocks As Big As Cars

Check out this picture of a rockslide that happened on Chuckanut Drive (SR 11) in Western Washington last week. Fortunately no one was injured or hurt when several hundred yards of rock crashed onto the roadway. Some of the rocks were as big as small cars.

Writer Not Happy With Sprague/Appleway Decision

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Street plan 'monstrous'

Regarding your editorial (Nov. 3) approving the "hybrid" traffic compromise by the city of Spokane Valley, one might say: "What's another $12 million, anyway?" It is, however, just part of a monstrous, $42 million unfunded mandate to totally change over six miles of the Sprague/ Appleway corridor almost to Greenacres.

Though Valley population and commercial activity trends eastward, our city seeks to eliminate, through zoning, any retail and land competition to force commercial growth at University City. Thus, magically, a "city" will rise, rebuilt around a grand edifice called City Hall, worthy of housing an exploding bureaucracy.

This plan is also discriminatory and arbitrary, favors a select few, and saddles hundreds of businesses and property owners with compromised titles, depressed real estate and insurance and financing worries through "nonconforming" status. Building restrictions border the absurd.

With a 2009 budget of $111 million ($304,000/day), the city appears oblivious to looming taxpayer burdens. Dissenters are lectured about their powerless status.

The tragedy is that all of us want an attractive city, built by citizen consensus. But deaf ears prevail. The plan has been bought, the planning department has been unleashed and the taxpayers lose.

Elizabeth Damascus Grafos
Spokane Valley

What's your opinion of the Sprague/Appleway Corridor 'compromise?'

Roundup For the Week of Nov. 17

If you haven't been to Spokane International Airport lately you're in for a surprise when you do go, troopers issue almost 3,000 citations to large trucks in a safety emphasis patrol, and don't warm your car up in the morning because you could get a ticket. Here's roundup from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Is Honda Withholding Natural Gas Burning Car?

Is Honda suppressing sales of a car that's being called by some "the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle in the world." That's what some writers and websites claim, and they're using Spokane Community College's auto mechanic program as proof.

The college has been trying to get their hands on a compressed natural gas-burning car, to train would-be mechanics, with no luck. SCC's prolonged effort is being cited in a book about America's reliance on foreign oil, and also in online reports for The Cutting Edge Web site. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mark Your Calendars For Master Bike Plan Open House

You're invited to attend an open house next week to learn the status of the update to the City of Spokane’s Master Bike Plan. The meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 18, 6 to 8 p.m. at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway.

The update includes identifying ways to make Spokane more bicycle-friendly and improving bike routes, signage, and other elements. You'll have the opportunity to make comments and suggestions and ask questions.

We'll remind you again next week.

Bike Sharing Huge Success In Europe

We tried a variation of 'bike sharing' in Spokane years ago, with the result that a lot of the lilac-painted bicycles ended up in the river or stolen. This New York Times article tells how some new technology is keeping things like that from happening, and making bike sharing a huge sucess in Europe.

Do you think bike sharing would work if we tried it again, with the technology mentioned in the story?

Trent Lane Reduction

If you drive Trent on your commute, get ready for some possible obstructions and delays in the area from McDonald Road to the railroad tracks. Trent will be reduced to one westbound lane in this area starting next Monday, in order to install sewer line.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

STA Ridership Hits New High

Confetti didn't rain from the sky and a marching band appear out of nowhere like on TV, but ridership on Spokane Transit Authority buses and vans surpassed the one million mark for the first time last month!

The number of Citylink riders in Kootenai County is way up too. Here are the numbers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bike master plan heads for public comment

According to a story in toady's Spokesman Review, the City of Spokane's bicycle master plan is almost ready for a public open house. You can read the story here. Below is a you tube video the Bicycle Blvd. concept mentioned in the story. If you haven't watched this video already, it is worth your time.

The open house will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18 at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway Ave.

Keep the change...

No need to plug the meters in Downtown Spokane Tuesday. It's Veterans' Day, and those oh-so-dedicated parking (ahem) police are taking a well-deserved day off. Here is a press release from the city of Spokane:




Parking meters don’t have to be plugged on Tuesday, Nov. 11, because of the Veterans Day holiday. City of Spokane offices and libraries, however, are open as usual on Tuesday, and garbage pickup and curbside recycling will proceed on a normal schedule.

Riverfront Park’s Imax Theater and Ice Palace are open on Veterans Day. Check for the schedule.

Friday, November 7, 2008

For Those Who Don't Like To Read, Here's A Video On SmartRoutes

If you've heard of the SmartRoutes campaign we've been talking about a lot lately, but want more information, this video may help. It was produced by Cable Channel 5 and will play all month there as part of the Insight program. For even more SmartRoutes info,check out the new SmartRoutes website.

Some Updates From The City

· Francis Avenue from Walnut to Adams streets will have lane restrictions beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, and ending at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.

· Street crews are crack sealing Northwest Blvd. from Assembly to Alberta streets; Broadway Ave. from Oak to A streets; and Fifth Ave. from Pittsburg to Thor streets.

Spokane City Leaf Pickup Starts Monday

Spokane City residents get ready. The annual leaf pickup begins on Monday, Nov. 10.

The service is intended to remove only leaves that naturally fall into the streets. Please do NOT rake leaves into the street. Please move your vehicle from the street before leaf crews are in your neighborhood. I was going to list the pickup dates and neighborhoods, but there was way too much info to post here. If you want to know when they'll be in your neighborhood, check the,City's leaf pickup webpage.

Slow Going On I-5 Due To Flooding

Be glad you're not driving on I-5 in Western Washington this morning. Not only did a crash of multiple semi-trucks close the southbound lanes all morning, but heavy rains are causing flooding on the freeway and surrounding areas.

For more flood pictures,here's a link to KIRO TV's website.

Gas Hits $1.99 In Spokane Valley

Ta da! It's here! $1.99 gas made it's first appearance in the Spokane Valley last night at Argonne and Montgomery. And people were responding. As I was leaving after filling up, there was a huge line waiting for their turn at $1.99 gas. And I wasn't the only one taking pictures either. I noticed a couple other people using their phones to snap pictures of the price.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

West Side Light Rail Proposal Passing

A regional transit proposal that would extend light rail service from downtown Seattle into the surrounding suburbs is passing, as votes are still being counted.

Proposition 1 would impose a sales tax increase of 0.5 percent, a nickel per $10, to pay for a plan Sound Transit estimates at $22.8 billion that would expand light rail to Bellevue, Lynnwood and Federal Way.

Here are the details.

Murphy's Law?

City Councilman Bob Apple, who opposed installing red light cameras at city intersections, was hit by a red-light runner last week.

Apparently that hasn't changed his mind about the need for the program, though.

And so far the cameras are racking up violators; 650 drivers have been warned or cited since Oct. 1. Here's the story.

Here It Comes

It's a little hard to make out because of the water on the lens, but this picture is of weather conditions on Stevens Pass. Look past the water drops and you'll see lots of snow on the ground.

Snow has fallen the past few days in both Washington and Idaho mountain passes. Traction tires are being advised on Sherman Pass in northeast Washington and no oversize loads are allowed on Stevens Pass in central Washington. For Idaho's Lookout Pass, the roadways are currently clear of snow, but it's wet in shaded areas.

Thanks For Taking The Ped Plan Survey

Thanks to everyone who took the recent survey to help us develop a Regional Pedestrian Plan. We had 1222 respondents to the survey! That's huge! I'll post results as soon as I get them. Thanks again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Daylight Savings Time Takes Toll On Pedestrians

A reminder to drivers and pedestrians to pay extra attention to pedestrian safety now that it's getting dark earlier. The Washington State Department of Transportation says that, once daylight savings time kicks in, it's difficult for drivers to see walkers and bikers. Of the 67 pedestrian fatalities that occurred between February 1, 2007 and January 30 2008, almost half occurred between October and January, when daylight savings time was in effect.

Here are some safety tips to reduce the risk of being involved in a collision:

• Wear bright or reflective clothes and carry a flashlight to be seen
• Make eye contact with drivers – know that the driver is aware of your presence
• Walk where it’s safest – use sidewalks or on the edge of the road facing traffic
• Cross the roadway at intersections

• Drive the speed limit – survivability rates for pedestrians involved in collisions with vehicles decreases as speeds increase
• Stop for pedestrians. Motorists must stop for pedestrians in unmarked or marked crosswalks (any intersection is considered a crosswalk). It is also illegal to pass another vehicle stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk
• Pay attention near schools and recreation areas

Cycling Grows, Even In Areas With Public Transportation Options

Even in areas where there is ample public transportation, the amount of people riding bicycles to get to work is growing. The New York City Department of Transportation says that commuter cycling rose a remarkable 35 percent between 2007 and 2008! Here's the story from the New York Times.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WSDOT Gets Ready To Break Out The Big Guns

The Washington State Department of Transportation is in high gear, getting ready to battle the snow expected to fall on Snoqualmie Pass tonight.

Here's their plan, and what they expect from you if you're driving to the west side anytime soon. Someone wake me in the spring when the snow is all gone.

Please Vote; There's A Transportation Item On The Ballot

A reminder to vote today if you haven't already. Either get yourself to your polling place or drop your ballot in the mail so the postmark shows you mailed it today.

Remember, there's an item on the ballot that would affect transportation in Washington State- I-985, the initiative Tim Eymann says will reduce traffic congestion but opponents say would take money away from the east side of the state.

Be sure to do your research. For more information on all state ballot items, check out the Washington Voter website. It's a non-partisan summary of the 2008 statewide initiatives prepared by the League of Women Voters.

Satisfied Customer Thanks City Of Spokane

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
City's road response refreshing

On Sept. 17 I sent an e-mail to Mayor Mary Verner titled "Concerned Five Mile Resident." I invited the mayor to drive Strong Road that stretches across Five Mile Prairie. I wanted her to get firsthand experience of how narrow, bumpy and, I believe, dangerous this road is for the Five Mile community.

I received a telephone call from the mayor's office just two days later inquiring about my availability for a ride-along with city officials. I jumped at the chance! On Oct. 16, Ted Danek, city administrator, Gerald Gemmill, deputy director, and Mark Serbousek, director of the street department, met me for a ride-along on Five Mile's Strong Road. Though the drive only lasted a few minutes, I felt privileged to have the undivided attention of three city officials. They listened to my concerns and noticed the many improvements that needed to be made to the high-traffic Strong Road.

Within a week I received a call from Ted Danek informing me that I should see some work done on two of Strong Road's biggest dips. Two days later they were completed. I want to thank Mr. Danek, Mr. Gemmill and Mr. Serbousek for the improvements to Strong Road.

Rebecca R. Selby

We don't see enough favorable letters to the editor concerning transportation in our area. Anyone else have a shout-out they'd like to post? I personally would like to thank Mark Curtis, the Customer Service Manager at the STA Plaza for all the help he provided us recently on an event SRTC was co-hosting.

The Math Says It's Not Worth The Drive

Yesterday I said it may be worth the trip to Kootenai County to fill your gas tank, with the 40 cent difference in gas prices between the state. Well, I've been proven wrong, which happens once in a while.

An article in the Spokesman today says you'll spend almost as much to get there and back as you would have saved. And they've done the math to prove it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Studs Are Legal Now In WA & ID

It's now legal to have studded tires on your car in both Washington and Idaho. AS of Nov. 1, you can drive with studded tires in Washington. The date in Idaho was Oct. 1.

And another sign that winter is almost here, WSDOT has started its 24-hour mountain pass reports. Here's where you can check those reports

Time To Take A Drive To Idaho?

I've always said it's a waste of time and money to drive to Idaho to fill your tank, as you use what you would save just making the trip over there. It may pay off for you Valley residents now though, since gas dropped below $2 a gallon this weekend in Kootenai County. The lowest I've seen the price here in Washingotn was $2.39 this morning in Liberty Lake. A 40-cent per gallon difference in price may be a motivating factor for me to take a scenic drive, at least to Post Falls.

Here's the latest on gas prices from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

In the meantime, what's your prediction? How long will prices continue to drop, and stay low?

Editorial Calls For Valley To Make Better Transportation Plan

Last week, the City of Spokane Valley announced they had come up with a compromise in the debate over the Sprague-Appleway couplet: the section of the one-way alignment east of Dishman-Mica Road will be restored to two-way streets, while the section to the west will remain as a couplet.

An editorial in today's Spokesman-Review says the Valley needs a better 'vision' for transportation in it's jurisdiction to develop its' identity as a city.

Ride The Bus To Slow Global Warming

Using mass transit is the single biggest thing the average person can do to slow global warming, a national leader in public transportation told transportation officials in Spokane last week. Here's the story from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Be careful out there...

Halloween is always a dangerous night for for the trick-or-treaters who are out walking the streets. But, this Halloween could be more dangerous for those children because it falls on a Friday night, which adds to the potential for encounters with drunken drivers. If you are planning to take the children out on a traditional trick-or-treating adventure. Please take extra care to make sure your trick-or-treaters are visible. The police will be out in force and participating in the festivities. Check out the Spokesman review story below:

Extra police presence planned for tonight

SPOKANE -- Law enforcement agencies in Spokane County will be out in force tonight to help keep trick-or-treaters safe.

A program called Bringing Area Trick-or-Treaters Safety puts Spokane police, county deputies and state troopers in neighborhoods to make sure motorists obey traffic laws, especially when pedestrians are present, said Spokane County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Police also will hand out candy, glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets. Trick-or-treaters will be invited to sit in patrol cars. There's a chance those patrol cars will be needed as shelter: The National Weather Service said there's a 20 percent likelihood of rain tonight.

Otherwise, the weather should be appropriate for the holiday. Dark, cloudy skies and a breeze to toss fallen leaves just enough so they'll sound like scuffling shoes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some Updates From The City

Here's a roundup of updates from the City of Spokane:

• Division St. from Main Ave. to Spokane Falls Blvd. will be reduced by one lane through Friday, Oct. 31 for water work.

• Washington St. near Pacific Ave. will be reduced by two lanes on Monday, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for water service installation.

• Five Mile Rd. near Stratton will be reduced to one lane on Monday, Nov. 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Crews will be repairing a water main.

• Monroe St. just north of its intersection with Indiana Ave. will have one lane closed on Wednesday, Nov. 5, so crews can repair a water valve.

• Aubrey L. White Pkwy. from Downriver Dr. to the Water Treatment Plant will be closed to traffic through Friday, Nov. 7 so crews can work on the combined sewer outfall located there.

• SR902, near W. Geiger Blvd. in Airway Heights, will have lane closures and obstructions while crews work on the Fairchild Water Transmission Main. Flaggers will be in place.

• Madison St. near its intersection with First Ave. will be reduced by two traffic lanes for the next week. The closure is needed for utility work.

Pictures From the SmartRoutes Rally

I know, the SmartRoutes Community Rally was over a week ago, but here are some pictures I just got from the folks over at the County's Commute Trip Reduction program. Thanks again everyone for your help making this a great event!

Safe Routes To School Summit Reminder

This is your reminder to register for the second annual Washington Safe Routes to School Summit if you haven't already. It's Nov. 14 here in Spokane.

Only one out of every 8 children walks to school anymore. Most ride the bus or get a ride. This is leading to less active children, less connected neighbors, and lower air quality. Don't miss this opportunity for parents, educators, administrators, law enforcement, and others to be part of the solution.

Learn from experts in the field from all across the Northwest about:
Getting your program off the ground, innovations and success stories from around the state, mobilizing parents and administration, and sustaining programs.

Click here to register.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Possible Insurance Savings When You Use Alternate Commute

I bumped into a former co-worker today on the bus. He said that his insurance company knocked $20 a month off his auto policy because he rides the bus! It doesn't work with every insurance company (I called mine and they go by how many miles you put on your car each year. Even riding the bus, I still make several trips across the state, putting me over the required mileage mark)but it could be worth the five minutes it takes to call your agent.


Have a question for the Washington State Department of Transportation? A lot of other people do too. And the WSDOT is answering some of them on their blog. Today's question: what kind of liquid deicer should citizens buy to use on their private driveways? The answer?
Click here to see.

Part Of Couplet Returning To Two-Way

A compromise was struck at last night's Spokane Valley council meeting on a proposal to restore two-way traffic on Sprague Avenue.

Two-way traffic will be restored only between Dishman-Mica and University roads under a “hybrid” approach adopted by the council. Two-way traffic will be introduced to Appleway Boulevard in the same section.

Here's are the details. Read the story, then let us know what you think of this change.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Forget Your Bike

The other day, I was leaving the STA Plaza, when I noticed a STA Maintenance Truck leaving the loading zone full of bikes. There were probably at least a dozen bikes, maybe up to 20. I asked Mark Curtis, the Customer Service/Plaza Manager for STA about the bikes and he said they had all been left behind either on buses, at park and rides facilities, or at the Plaza. They will be taken to the Police Department for auction.

So, the moral of the story is don't leave your bike behind, or you may have to buy it back.

Monday, October 27, 2008

First Ave. Closures

Tomorrow morning, First Ave. from Adams St. to Monroe St. will be closed to traffic from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, First Ave. from Jefferson St. to Monroe St. will be closed to traffic from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The news release says the closure is needed for filming. It doesn't say what kind of closure but I'm going to take a guess and say filming of a movie.

Roundup For the Week of October 27

Local schools ask apply for grants to keep students safe on their way to school, and the WSDOT asks for your help naming a pedestrian and bike path being built in conjunction with the North Spokane Corridor. Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Letter Writer Asks Opponents To Let Work Get Done

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
North-south road projects urgent

When I moved to Spokane almost 30 years ago there was a big debate going on over a north-south freeway. Some people fought it tooth and toenail, so the project was postponed – and postponed – and postponed, and with each postponement the cost went up until now the cost is astronomical. Now I think I see the same thing happening with the Bigelow Gulch project.

I have to drive that route several times a week, year-round, and I have seen the traffic getting heavier and heavier. Sooner or later the project is going to have to be done, and later it is going to cost far more than it would now, so those who are fighting it are only costing all of us, first of all for lawyers to defend the project and secondly for higher cost of construction.

Sure, it will probably help change the complexion of the community of Orchard Prairie, but that is going to happen anyway as the whole area around Spokane continues to grow, so come on, folks, get out of the way and let this needed work get done as soon as possible.

Claire Boulton
Spokane Valley

What do you think about the Bigelow Gulch expansion? Is it much-needed, or a good way to ruin a community?

Eyman Proposal Would Send $ To Seattle, & Spokane Considers Scrapping Photored

Opponents of Tim Eyman's latest proposal say Initiative 985 would take money away from Eastern Washington and give it to metropolitan Seattle. In response, the City of Spokane is considering scrapping their Photored cameras.

985 would divert 15% of all state sales taxes generated through vehicle sales, and from traffic tickets issued through camera enforcement programs,including Spokane's photored cameras, into a state fund that would pay for measures to alleviate traffic congestion. A new study says most of that money would be spent in King County though. Here's the breakdown on where the money would go.

If the initiative passes, Spokane officials say they may dump the photored cameras, rather than lose money. Here's that story.

What's your opinion of I-985?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Updates From The City of Spokane

• The intersection of Sprague Ave. and Freya St. will be reduced by one lane through Wednesday, Oct. 29. Additionally, the sidewalks will be closed to pedestrians.

• Division St. from Main Ave. to Spokane Falls Blvd. will be reduced by one lane from Monday, Oct. 27, through Friday, Oct. 31 for water work.

• 10th Ave. from Rockwood Blvd. to Sherman St. will be completely closed to traffic from Monday, Oct. 27 through Thursday, Oct. 30 to install jersey barriers.

• The intersection of Ash St. and Northwest Blvd. will have lane closures while crews work on utilities. Work starts Monday, Oct. 27, and may take three days to complete.

• Beginning Monday, Oct. 27, Aubrey L. White Pkwy., from Downriver Dr. to the Water Treatment Plant, will be closed to traffic for up to two weeks so crews can work on the Combined Sewer Overflow.

• Madison St. near its intersection with First Ave. will be reduced by two traffic lanes for the next two weeks for utility work.

Weather Delays Completion Of Projects

This morning’s freezing temperatures have delayed three road projects in north Spokane County. Work on these projects began on Tuesday, October 21 and were scheduled for completion later today. However, the cold temperatures have resulted in a one-day delay and traffic will continue to be affected through Friday, October 24th.

• Bigelow Gulch Road from Lehman to Forker will be closed from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. daily for maintenance and repair work.

• Forker Road from Progress to Bigelow Gulch will be closed daily from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. for maintenance and repair work.

• The intersection at Progress and Forker will be closed daily from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. to rebuild the intersection.

This Is Your Chance To Talk To A City Councilman Live!

The next edition of “Council Connection,” the cable television program featuring Spokane City Council members as hosts, will be shown live tonight, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. on CityCable 5.

Council Member Richard Rush will host the program, titled “Smart Routes: Creating a First-Class Walking and Biking Community.”

Guests will be Dr. Bob Lutz, Chair of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board; Cindy Green, Program Manager for the Spokane Regional Health District; Barb Chamberlain, Chair of Bike to Work Week; and Ross Kelley, of HDR Engineering and a Smart Routes Committee member.

Council Member Rush will accept calls from viewers during the program at625-6337.The program is shown live on the taping date and is then repeated for about a month until the next program is produced. CityCable 5 is found on channel 5 on the Comcast cable system in Spokane.

Gas Hits $2.89 in Liberty Lake!

Gas at the new Cenex station in Liberty Lake is now at $2.89 a gallon for unleaded! I tried to take a picture as proof, but since I was driving at the time, ended up with a picture of my passenger side mirror instead. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Changes Recommended For STA Plaza

STA's governing board is recommending that the Plaza in downtown Spokane remain a bus facility. In the past year, there had been talk of selling the building and moving buses somewhere else. Under the plan, the Plaza would have a new look though.
Here are the details.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spokesman Editorial Encourages SmartRoutes Support

Our diabolical plan is working. People are starting to talk about SmartRoutes and spread the word about the plan, which would help to build non-motorized transportation facilities in our area.Here's an editorial that ran in the Spokesman today.

Tell City Council Transportation Is Important To You

The Spokane City Council wants to hear from you! The Council has developed an on-line survey to find out what's important to people who live and work in the City of Spokane. The information will be used to help develop a work plan for 2009. Take the survey and be sure to mention that money for transportation projects is a priority.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SmartRoutes Rally Media Coverage

Here's a piece KHQ News shot on the SmartRoutes plan at yesterday's rally.

Take A Virtual Tour Of Snoqualmie Pass Project

If you've driven over Snoqualmie Pass recently, you've probably noticed that some changes are in the works. WSDOT will improve five miles of I-90 between Hyak and Keechelus Dam, including adding an additional lane in each direction, extending chain on and off areas, expanding the snowshed, building new bridges, reducing sharp curves, repairing deteriorated pavement, stabilizing unstable slopes, installing avalanche fences, and connecting wildlife habitats over and under the highway.

You can take a virtual tour by going to the WSDOT website and clicking on the picture on the right hand side.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

A huge THANK YOU to all the people who helped organize and staff today's SmartRoutes Community Rally, and all the people who showed up and gave us positive feedback. We had a tremendous turnout, more than we could have hoped for!

I'll be getting pictures posted as soon as I get them back from our 'Official SmartRoutes Photographer' Tony Snow.

Traffic Congestion & Delays For Tuesday & Wednesday

- Starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow and Wednesday, until as late as 3 p.m., crews will be working on the pedestrian bridge crossing eastbound I-90 near the Altamont and Thor/Freya Interchanges. Eastbound freeway traffic will be reduced to two through lanes. The eastbound Altamont on-ramp will be closed during this work. Eastbound drivers should expect lane restrictions and possible slower traffic.

- On Tuesday, beginning at 9 a.m. for about two hours, the westbound Thor/Freya on-ramp and the westbound Altamont off-ramp will be closed for replacement of damaged illumination equipment.

- On Wednesday, drivers should expect lane restrictions on the westbound Lincoln Street off-ramp as crews repair the pavement. The ramp will remain open as crews work on one lane at a time.

Transportation Roundup For The Week Of Oct. 20

Just in time for National School Bus Safety Week, the federal government has issued new regulations to increase the safety of children in school buses. Here's what's happening this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Bigelow, Forker, and Progress to Close

Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday), Bigelow Gulch Road and Forker will be closed for maintenance work until Thursday. In addition, Progress Road at Forker will be closed during the same period to rebuild the intersection.

Bigelow Gulch and Forker are highly traveled roads and signs have been posted informing motorists of the closures.

SmartRoutes Community Rally Day

Today is the day, the SmartRoutes Public Rally is today from noon- 1 p.m. at the STA Plaza in downtown Spokane. The SmartRoutes initiative is an application and case statement for up to $50 million in grant money for much-needed non-motorized transportation projects in our area.

Fore more info, take a look at the SmartRoutes website, then pass the word on to your friends. If we can show Congress that the whole community is behind this effort, we've got a better chance of getting the money needed for active transportation. And stop by the Plaza this afternoon if you can.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Updates From The City of Spokane

- The Broadway realignment project is substantially complete. The project realigned the Broadway Ave. connection to Freya St. to one block south to Alki Ave. Detail work is still being completed, so drivers should be prepared for minor delays for a couple more weeks. The $2.1 million project was funded with money from federal sources and City funds.

- The intersection at Sprague Ave. and Freya St. will be reduced by one lane through Wednesday, Oct. 29.

- Northwest Blvd. from Maple to Ash streets will be reduced by one lane until Sunday, Oct. 19. The closure is needed to repair concrete panels that did not meet the City’s construction standards.

- SR902, near W. Gieger Blvd. in Airway Heights, will have lane closures and obstructions while crews work on the Fairchild Water Transmission Main. Flaggers will be in place.

The following projects were completed by the City in 2008:

· Maple and Ash Streets from Broadway Avenue to Northwest Boulevard
· Hatch road from 54th to 43rd avenues
· Driscoll Blvd. from Alberta to Assembly streets
· Wall St. from Wellesely to Francis avenues
· Spokane Falls Blvd. from Washington to Browne streets
· Belt St. Residential project
· Third Ave. residential project

New Report Shows Economic Impact Roads Can Have

A new report just released by the Washington State Department of Transportation shows just how important road maintenance and operations are to the state’s economy.

The report documents more than $75 million in freight-related economic impact related to the closures of Interstate 5 and Interstate 90 last winter, due to severe weather. Here's a link to the full report.

I90 Lane Reductions

This Saturday, October 18th, from 9:00 p.m. until as late as 11:00 a.m. the next morning, eastbound traffic on I-90 will be reduced to one lane to accomodate crews doing repairs to a pedestrian bridge that was hit by a truck. Drivers should expect slow traffic and congestion. In addition, the eastbound Altamont on-ramp will be closed.

Take The Second Pedestrian Plan Survey PLEASE!

Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC), the City of Spokane, and the Regional Pedestrian Plan Committee are developing a Regional Pedestrian Plan that addresses the need for projects and policies that promote walking in our community.

Feedback from everyday people who use current pedestrian facilities is critical in developing the details of the Plan. And the most effective way to get that feedback is through a series of surveys.

In June, the public was asked to take a survey to help identify issues that are barriers to walking. Now a follow-up survey will help determine solutions to those barriers.

Please give us your input and take the survey by Oct. 31. Your input is appreciated regardless of the amount of walking you do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Northwest Blvd. Delays

Northwest Blvd. from Maple St. to Ash St. is reduced to one westbound lane to repair concrete panels. The street is expected to reopen by Sunday, Oct. 19. Until then, drivers should expect delays.

Airport Entrance Configuration Changing

A warning if you're driving to the airport Thursday or Friday; things are going to look a little different at the entrance. Starting tomorrow, entrance lanes will be reconfigured to have three lanes all the way to the terminals, and all three lanes will go in front of Terminal C, instead of veering around it to Terminal A. This transition is the first step in a project to seperate taxis and shuttle buses from private cars.

City Advertises For Bike/Ped Coordinator

A lot of people have been talking about it, and now the City of Spokane has just posted a job opening for a Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator. Here's the job description in case you're interested. This is a big deal because it will make it easier to get grants for non-motorized transportation projects.

Driver Calls For Enforcement For Careless Bicyclists

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Bicycling laws beg enforcement

As a person who spends between four and six hours daily driving the streets of downtown Spokane, I'm pleading with our police chief to help me and the other drivers of this city deal with the ever-increasing bicyclists we face daily. It is rare that a day goes by that I don't encounter a bicyclist ignoring traffic signals, cutting through lanes without signaling, and even driving the wrong way against traffic.

It is my understanding that bicyclists have the duty to obey the traffic laws just as those of us in cars or trucks. I know the law states that if a bicycle is ridden in the roadway they are subject to all the duties that other vehicles are and are granted the same rights as the other vehicles (RCW 46.61.755). If they choose to ride on sidewalks they become equal to a pedestrian in their rights and responsibilities.

With increasing bicycle traffic due to higher fuel prices, can we drivers get some help from the local authorities by encouraging them to enforce the laws so we don't have to place ourselves in jeopardy in dealing with the bicyclists who choose to break the law?

Ray Moss

We had this discussion around here last week; as a result of high gas prices and more people taking to the roads on bikes, a lot of us have recently seen bicyclists riding against the flow of traffic, darting out of nowhere, and fewer riders wearing helmets.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New SmartRoutes Website Up & Running

T-minus six days until the SmartRoutes Community Rally at the Spokane Transit Plaza in downtown Spokane. The SmartRoutes initiative is an application and case statement for up to $50 million in grant money for much-needed non-motorized transportation projects in our area.

Fore more info, take a look at the new SmartRoutes website, then pass the word on to your friends. If we can show Congress that the whole community is behind this effort, we've got a better chance of getting the money needed for active transportation.

Safe Routes To School Summit Coming To Spokane

The Second Annual Washington Safe Routes to School Summit is coming up in November, so get yourself registered.

Today, most children take the bus or are driven to school. Only 1 out of every 8 children gets to school on their own two feet. This is taking a toll on our communities - children are less active, neighbors are less connected, and air quality is lower than ever.

The summit is Nov. 13 in Spokane. There will be experts from all across the Northwest on: Getting your program off the ground, innovations and success stories from around the state, mobilizing parents and administration, and sustaining programs. Here's where to register.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.